Lorle





In three acts by ALBAN FOERSTER.



Text by HANS HEINRICH SCHEFSKY.





With this opera its composer has made a lucky hit; it stands far higher

than the "Maidens of Schilda", by dint of the charming subject, founded

on Auerbach's wonderful village-story: Die Frau Professorin. This

romance is so universally known and admired all over Germany, that it

ensures the success of the opera. The music is exceedingly well

adapted to the subject; its best parts are the "Lieder" (songs) which

are often exquisitely sweet, harmonious and refined. They realize

Foerster's prominent strength, and nowhere could they be better placed

than in this sweet and touching story.



Though the libretto is not very carefully written, it is better than

the average performances of this kind, and with poetical

intuition Schefsky has refrained from the temptation, to make it turn

out well, as Charlotte Birch-Pfeiffer has done in her play of L'orle,

which is a weak counterpart of Auerbach's village-tragedy.



The first representation of the opera took place in Dresden on June

18th of 1891; it won the success it truly deserves.



The first act which is laid in a village of the Black Forest,

represents the square before the house of the wealthy Lindenhost. He

wishes his only daughter Lorle to marry a well to do young peasant,

named Balder, who loved her from her childhood. But Lorle rejects him,

having lost her heart to a painter, who had stayed in her father's

house, and who had taken her as a model for a picture of the Madonna,

which adorns the altar of the village church. Lorle's friend Baerbele

guesses her secret, and advises her to consult fate, by wreathing

secretly a garland of blue-bells and reed grass. This wreath she is to

throw into the branches of an oak calling aloud the name of her lover.

If the garland is stopped by the boughs, her wishes are fulfilled, if

it falls back into the girl's hands, she must give up hope for the year.



Both maidens resolve to try their fate on the very same night, which

happens to be St. John's (midsummer-night) the true night for the

working of the charm.



Meanwhile the Hussars arrive, to carry away the newly enlisted

peasants. The sergeant willingly permits a last dance, and all

join in it heartily, but when the hour of parting comes the frightened

Balder hides in an empty barrel. Unfortunately his officer happens to

choose this one barrel for himself, deeming it filled with wine. When

it is laid on the car, the missing recruit is promptly apprehended.



The scene changes now to one of sylvan solitude, through which two

wanderers are sauntering. They are artists, and one of them,

Reinhardt, is attracted to the spot by his longing for the sweet

village-flower, whom he has not forgotten in the whirl of the great

world. Already he sees the windows of his sweet-heart glimmer through

the trees, when suddenly light footsteps cause the friends to hide

behind a large oak-tree. The two maidens who appear are Lorle and

Baerbele. The former prays fervently, then throwing her garland she

shyly calls her lover's name Reinhardt. The latter stepping from

behind the tree skillfully catches the wreath--and the maiden. This

moment decides upon their fates; Reinhardt passionately declares his

love, while Walter amuses himself with pretty Baerbele, whose naive

coquetry pleases him mightily.



The following act introduces us to Reinhardt's studio in a German

residence. A year has gone by since he wooed and won his bride; alas,

he is already tired of her. The siren Maria countess of Matran, with

whom he was enamoured years ago and whose portrait he has just

finished, has again completely bewitched him.







In vain Lorle adorns herself in her bridal attire at the anniversary of

their wedding; the infatuated husband has no eye for her loveliness,

and roughly pushes her from him. Left alone the poor young wife gives

vent to her feelings in an exquisite sigh of longing for her native

country. "Haett' ich verlassen nie dich, meine Haiden." (Would I had

never left thee, o my heath.)



A visit from her dear Baerbele somewhat consoles her and delights

Walter, the faithful house-friend. Balder, Lorle's old play mate,

still recruit, also comes in and gladdens her by a bunch of

heath-flowers. But hardly have they enjoyed their meeting, when the

prince is announced, who desires to have a look at the countess'

portrait. The rustic pair are hastily hidden behind the easel, and

Lorle receives his Royal Highness with artless gracefullness,

presenting him with the flowers she has just received. Her husband is

on thorns, but the prince affably accepts the gift and invites her to a

festival, which is to take place in the evening. Then he looks at the

picture, expressing some disappointment about its execution, which so

vexes the sensitive artist that he roughly pushes the picture from the

easel thereby revealing the two innocents behind it. Great is his

wrath at his wife's imprudence, while the prince exits with the

countess, unable to repress a smile at the unexpected event.



There now ensues a very piquant musical intermezzo, well making up for

the missing overture. The rising curtain reveals a brilliant court

festival. Reinhardt has chosen the countess for his shepherdess,

while Lorle, standing a moment alone and heart-sore, is suddenly chosen

by the Prince as queen of the fete. After a charming gavotte the

guests disperse in the various rooms. Only the countess stays behind

with Reinhardt and so enthralls him, that he forgets honor and wife,

and falls at her feet, stammering words of love and passion.

Unfortunately Lorle witnesses the scene; she staggers forward, charging

her husband with treason. The guests rush to her aid, but this last

stroke is too much for the poor young heart, she sinks down in a dead

faint.



The closing act takes place a year later. Walter and Baerbele are

married, and only Lorle's sad fate mars their happiness. Lorle has

returned to her father's home broken-hearted, and this grief for his

only child has changed the old man sadly.



Again it is midsummernight, and the father is directing his tottering

steps to the old oak, when he is arrested by a solitary wanderer, whom

sorrow and remorse have also aged considerably. With disgust and

loathing he recognizes his child's faithless husband, who comes to

crave pardon from the wife he so deeply wronged. Alas, he only comes,

to see her die.



Lorle's feeble steps are also guided by her friends to the old oak, her

favorite resting-place. There she finds her last wish granted; it is

to see Reinhardt once more, before she dies and to pardon him. The

luckless husband rushes to her feet and tries vainly to restrain

the fast-ebbing life. With the grateful sigh "he loves me", she sinks

dead into his arms, while a sweet and solemn choir in praise of St.

John's night concludes the tragedy.





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